Rick Springfield and Bow Wow Wow Feb 18, 2006

Yesterday in LA. Mid February. Cold, rainy, but not raining.

Rick Springfield was playing at the Wiltern Theatre on Wilshire. So I went down to the sound check to see if I could get an autograph. The sun was actually shining by this point, but it was brisk.

I pulled up to the artist's entrance. There was one girl standing there with a program from EFX, the show that Rick did some time ago in Vegas. She also had a photo of herself with Rick in front of the Roxy Theatre, about ten years ago, maybe more. I was at that show, too. The Roxy is a very small club on Sunset Blvd, and Rick had been out of "the business" for a few years, it was a very hot show.

Anyway, turns out I had just missed him going in. As had she, but she told me that "they" told her that he would be coming back out "in a while". So we stood there, on the sidewalk behind the Wiltern Theatre, and she was completely intrigued that I was (am) a guy and interested in Rick Springfield. Which is true, on both counts. My experience has been that his fans are mostly female. Once we had chatted for a while (getting colder by the hour), she decided I really was a fan (which I am), and she told me that she had an extra ticket for tonight's show. And she gave it to me!

So we listened to Rick and the band do the sound check (through the walls of course, but it was pretty loud, and we could tell what songs they were playing) and sure enough, eventually the band started coming out one by one (the girl had me take pictures of her with each band member, they all seemed to know one another) and finally, Rick himself came out. He had a guitar in his hand (in a case) but he set it down on the sidewalk and he signed our items and the girl had me take pictures of her with Rick.

See what Rick signed for me

At this point, I was so cold I could barely hold her camera, but I think they turned out all right. As it happens, I didn't have time to take a picture of Rick myself, which I would have liked. But I'll describe him to you. Tall, black short foppish hair, very cute, very very skinny. Looks about the same as he did twenty years ago, possible thinner. He was very pleasant to us, and he signed all the Rick Springfield items I had with me, two LPs and three cd booklets.

So the girls (by then a few more had shown up to meet Rick) and I said goodbye for now, they all went to stand in line to make sure they got good spots on the floor directly in front of the stage.

But me, I was hungry, and very cold, and plus I had an alternate agenda, which I hadn't shared with them.

Earlier that afternoon, I had checked the LA Weekly to make sure I had the right date and venue for Rick Springfield. And there was a little article, "best bets" on shows this weekend. And there was a picture of one of my favorite 80s bands, Bow Bow Wow. The article said they were doing a show in Hollywood that night with surf guitar legend Dick Dale (which seems an odd pairing, even now) and they had a picture of the band from the 80s. No mention of who is actually in the current line up. So I googled Bow Wow Wow and got several pet related sites. I did find some pages relevant to the band, but none had been updated in several years, and none had any info on that evening's show.

So while I dug out my Rick Springfield paraphernalia to get signed, I grabbed a few Bow Wow Wow items as well, and they were in my bag along with the freshly autographed Rick Springfield stuff.

But by this time it was nearly 7pm, and I thought surely I had missed Bow Wow Wow's sound check. But the Springfield show didn't start until 9, so I figured I had some time to check it out.

When I arrived at the Henry Fonda Theatre, it was already dark, and I was still cold from standing outside on the sidewalk behind the Wiltern all day. There were several young goth-trainee chicks wandering around (you know, lopsided hair cuts, dyed blacker than death, several layers of clothes, none fitting properly, polished off with those studded punk rock belts. And way too much black eye shadow. And all would die instantly should Gwen walk by. You know, Gwen!

I even asked one of them if she was Annabella (lead singer of Bow Wow Wow) but she only giggled and said, "no, sorry." Well, she did look the part, so I wasn't completely out of line.

So I stood there feeling like a fool and contemplating how much time I had for dinner before the Springfield show. When this small bald guy, dressed all in black, came up to me. He said I'd been standing there for a long time, and that I had a Bow Wow Wow LP in my hand. Right on both counts. He said, I'm on that album, and he pointed, "I'm the guy in the boat!"

Well, it turns out he was Leroy from Bow Wow Wow, but I had no idea. First of all Leroy in the pictures has a full head of dark brown hair, not to mention being at least twenty years younger! LOL.

He was a totally nice guy and we talked for some time. He said Annabella was there, but she wasn't going to be coming out for awhile. One of the original four members had died (years ago by the sound of it), and the last one lives in England. So Bow Wow Wow is two out of four, but they do have Adrian from No Doubt on drums. Which is more than Flock of Seagulls (one original member) can say.

It had started to rain again, so he said he'd go in and see if Annabella would come out to talk to me. Even though the security guard had kicked me out of the backstage area, Leroy brought me into the back, and told him it was OK for me to wait.

Then a few minutes later, the door opened and there was Annabella!

She seemed quite impressed that they had a fan waiting in the cold rain, and she signed all of my stuff, the first Bow Wow Wow Lp from the UK (with the banned cover with her nude on it), and a few cds. She sighed when she saw that I had two of her solo cds from England, I thought she was going to hug me! (eventually, she did). I mentioned the new Q magazine with John Lydon on the cover, it's all about UK Punk circa 1976, and she is mentioned in it a few times, and we talked a bit about Malcolm McLaren, who is interviewed in that magazine and talks about Annabella a bit. He was the master puppeteer behind Bow Wow Wow (also the Sex Pistols and Adam & the Ants).

Then she asked if I wanted a picture with them, and we posed for a quick shot. By this time it was pretty much raining and I was absolutely freezing and felt like hell (see picture). Annabella asked if I had a ticket to the show, and I said, no, that I had looked online, but couldn't find out anything about the show so I didn't know who was in it or what was going on or when. She said they didn't go on until 11pm, and then she asked for my phone number! She said, if she could get me a ticket, she'd call me. So I gave her my card and I said, if you need any artwork done, I've worked for Cleopatra, Rhino and Sony, and they both seemed quite impressed (and surprised, now that I think about it).

Here are the pictures, of them and of what they signed for me

So, after a quick meal at Denny's on Sunset, back to the Wiltern, just as they were flickering the lights to sit down. My ticket was for the floor, and I just wandered down and found a good spot just as the lights went down and the screaming began.

Did I mention the screaming?

Rick opened up with his rocking cover of the Easybeats' "I'll Make You Happy" (also covered by DiVinyls in the late 80s) which sounded awesome, and never stopped. He went through all the hits; Love is All Right Tonight, Celebrate Youth, Bop Til You Drop, I've Done Everything for You, Calling All Girls, Living in Oz, and more. He came out into the audience for two numbers, with a strap on guitar and a Peter Gabriel style headset microphone. He played the guitar with roses (seriously) and a fan's cel phone (on which he placed a call to the last number dialed, and said, "Hello, who is this? This is Rick Springfield!") and more. He smashed two guitars. Totally smashed TWO guitars. He hauled two kids from the audience up on stage to sing the chorus of "Don't Talk to Strangers" and smashed all the bouquets of roses he was handed on his guitar. Of course everyone went mad for "Jessie's Girl". And he did a great cover of Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town," which was much better than the version on his latest cd.

For photos (not taken by me)

All of course enrapturously witnessed by a couple thousand screaming (did I mention the screaming?) middle age women, all of whom seemed to be loving every second, as did Rick. Rick Springfield has some SERIOUS fans.

Even now, nearly 24 hours later, my hearing hasn't returned to normal.

The show was over at 10:45 and Bow Wow Wow were due to go on at 11pm. Annabella hadn't called me, but that was OK because by that point I'd about wrung what I could out of that day. And my socks were wet.

It was fun, though. And Annabella from Bow Wow Wow has my phone number! Will she call?

Los Angeles

©2006 The Art Dept LA

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